"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
It happened! Olbrich Botanical Garden’s Corpse Flower has finally bloomed today. The last time this plant bloomed was in 2009, I didn’t see it then. They have 4 plants altogether. The University of Wisconsin has its own Corpse Flower, affectionately named “Big Bucky”. That one last bloomed in 2012. It was named “Mori” by fans of Olbrich.
It’s housed inside of the Bolz Conservatory. At 4:15 PM it wasn’t too crowded so I picked a good time. Here are some facts about the flower.
The flower is located near the Conservatory entrance, there is a sign showing its life cycle. Picture courtesy of the University of Wisconsin.
I may have missed the peak smelliest time of the flower, I could only smell it up close. Inside the spathe the color is a deep red, setting off the green.
Now the whole plant.
It was fun meeting Mori, the world’s largest flower in person.
Token Creek is an unincorporated community that is part of the village of Windsor. The town of Burke also has some sections here as well. We are going explore Token Creek, past and present.
We had the pleasure of celebrating July 4th here in 2017, so much fun! They distill July 4th to the basics, honoring all veterans , joining family and community together for a day of fun. A favorite tradition is holding hands and singing along to Lee Greenwood’s famous song, God Bless the USA. They call it the “Circle of Freedom”. See it here.
Token Creek also has many businesses on Portage Road and Highway 19. A popular restaurant is on the corner of Hwy 19 and Portage Rd is the Paddle Inn. We need to eat there sometime.
Turn right at the corner and you find several more.
Gentle Breezes Hot Air Balloons has been giving you a ride to remember since 1990. Before that there was a different balloon company here called Token Creek Balloons, different ownership. At one time, the water tower near our home was painted with their logo. It now is blue and says “DeForest”.
Next is the parks, Token Creek cares about the wildlife in the are and makes sure they have a place here too. Token Creek itself is still a work in progress. Across 19 from Portage road is a sign about that.
Continue down the road and you will get to the Token Creek Conservancy, where the old grist mill used to be.
At this pond behind the sign, only the disabled are allowed to fish here. Just beyond this sign is the Token Creek marker you see at the top of the page.
A little past here is more of the park and the cemetery where the Veteran’s Remembrance Ceremony was held on July 4th. First the bridge over the creek.
The mill used to be in this area, now a beautiful park. To the left of the parking lot is the cemetery.
Keep walking streight ahead through the parking lot and you will soon come upon a bridge over the creek. Also a plaque on a rock to the right of the bridge.
Here you will find the other marker in Token Creek, near the park entrance.
You can camp here too.
Enjoy the pine forest with many mature trees.
I enjoyed my visits to Token Creek. To learn more about the community in the 19th and 20th centuries, I have a copy of this book, Token Creek by Mae Bork. The book is now out of print, but I found a copy here if you are interested.
Hot Springs, South Dakota is a city of 3,711 and is the county seat of Fall River County. We stayed there three nights with some friends, not downtown but in one of the nearby hills where their homestead is located. The countryside is beautiful, cattle ranches are a prevalent feature here. It was snowing in this picture.
Our friends took us on the grand tour, we saw everything on our list and more. We began with visiting John Robertson Memorial Park Cemetery. He was a prominent horticulturist and farmer in Fall River County.
After visiting here we learned why this is called the Veteran’s town. Our next stop was the South Dakota Veterans Home, a large beautiful building dedicated to caring for the many vets in Hot Springs. There is a large medical staff dedicated to the care of the residents here.
The Joe Kern Building-Soldiers Home
I have not seen a community honor vets as much as this one does. Inside the nursing home building near the entrance is a statue of a soldier. Inside the base is a time capsule, opening year is 2065.
Hot Spring’s downtown buildings are mostly made of sandstone, locally quarried at Evans Quarry. Read more about the stone’s use here. You saw some of these buildings at the Veterans Home also.
Here is the depot mentioned in the sign. The Soldiers Home is above.
This is the smallest union depot in the country. Here is the other signage on the depot.
Behind the depot is a train car.
Next to the depot is a small wood jail building serving the territory in 1885. It is the oldest surviving wooden jail in South Dakota.
The brown sign to the left of the door. Calamity Jane spent a night here too!
Enjoy a drive through downtown, nearly every building is constructed of pink sandstone.
The Fall River flows though the city, providing a soothing ambiance and view. There is even a waterfall along the Fall River Freedom Trail.
Kidney Spring has water deemed healthful for the kidneys. It flows freely from a spigot. A plaque gives a breakdown on the water analysis.
A retaining wall was built by the WPA in 1939. The view of it from the other side.
A great place to view downtown is at a lookout point on Hammond Avenue. It is a steep hill and about 1/2 way up. A great view of the Battle Mountain Sanitorium on the hill across the way.
There are more historical markers scattered throughout the city. This one is at the edge of town at a wayside on the Mammoth Highway, this is the front.
Another one is the Leslie Jensen Scenic Drive marker.
This small sign is attached below, telling us when he passed away.
Downtown is a Lions Club Memorial circle with a planter.
Closeup of the plaque on the monument.
This marker is near their former Carnegie Library building. A new and larger library with more parking was built and opened in 2007. Here is a list of all the Carnegie libraries in South Dakota.
If you look to your left, there is a steep hill leading to the Fall River Pioneer Museum. We could not go in since it was not open for the season yet.
On the northern edge of town is the Mammoth Site, where hundreds of Mammoth skeletons were discovered in 1974 while preparing the land for a housing development. The area was then protected and a very active dig still today. You can get a tour here and they offer programs for children and adults alike. There is a marker close to the driveway.
All this exploring can make one hungry. We enjoyed lunch at the China Buffet, a favorite downtown of the locals. For dinner we went to where our friend works, Taco John’s. Their food was yummy too!
The Hot Springs area has many beautiful parks for recreation, even a picnic!
We also took a closer look at the Fall River, namesake of the county Hot Springs resides in. We went to Keith Memorial Cascade Falls. It was so beautiful there, I imagine even more so later in the spring and summer. A marker is also located there.
There is a walkway leading down to a view of the falls, also a small chapel you can go in.
As we continued to head west, the more snowy it became at the tops of the highest hills. We had to take a selfie at the state border, we reached it by 1:50 PM. After a stop in Aladdin at 2:06 PM, Devils Tower became visible by 3:30 PM, partially obscured by the incoming mist and rain.
There was also a marker at this pull-off giving an overview of Devils Tower.
This view was seen shortly before entering the park. Also in the view are cattle grazing, a tranquil scene.
We’re here! It is really amazing to see it in person. We arrived at 4:04 PM. Get a souvenir at the Devils Tower Trading Post.
The staff at the booth went off shift at 4:00, so we just took care of business at the self-service kiosk and drove into the park.
The road curves to the left and we saw Prairie Dog Town. They made cute little squeaks when they saw us.
Closeup of the cute little guy, they are quite skittish.
Another great view of the tower from within the park.
We could hear thunder in the distance, it was time to go. One more picture before leaving, we tried flagging down that space ship but they didn’t see us 🙂 We love that movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
I think I might have visited here once MANY years ago, I don’t know for sure when. In fact, I had forgotten you could visit here. It was time to come back and see things in early spring. If you bike here, there is a cute fish-shaped bike rack.
Take a look at my visit here, you can see the fish swimming too.
Here is a map of the grounds, there are many signs placed throughout explaining the different areas of the fish hatchery. Let’s go for a walk! Spring is awakening here. The water never freezes though, they keep it warm over the winter. They have a sign describing winter activities here.
View of the area.
And the raceway below, in the morning the staff clean the water and feed the fish.
Walking a little further, we come to a peaceful pond, reflecting the trees.
We also find a marker on a large rock across from a bench by the creek, dedicated to Tom Palmer. A great place to sit and relax.
This is the Spiral Building, only staff can enter it.
As I walk back to the entry, I read the many signs talking about the history of this fish hatchery.
I had a great visit here, I plan on returning. I learned a lot about the crucial service this and all fish hatcheries provide.
There are other small garden plots within the park. The crops of Wisconsin are represented here.
The path leading to the large sunflower field.
We were not here long since a storm was coming. The sunflowers were beautiful!
The sunflower season is short so be sure to stop in when they are blooming! The last week of July is their Sunflower Days event. They love visitors any time of the year though and donations gratefully accepted!
On Day 2 of our trip, we headed to Mackinaw City to catch the Arnold ferry to Mackinac Island. Our first view of the Mackinac Bridge really built up our excitement! Residents and visitors alike LOVE their bridge and are not shy about showing it. The Mackinac Bridge Authority, located in both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, takes care of the bridge and the many people crossing it every day. There is a $4.00 toll payable on the St. Ignace side, which helps pay for maintenance and professional drivers. They drive people across the bridge in bad conditions or if you have a fear of bridges. Tune your radio to 530 or 1610 AM to hear a broadcast on bridge conditions. If there are good conditions, you hear a welcoming message to the Upper Peninsula (U.P.).
The next day dawned with a beautiful sunrise outside of our hotel, the Super 8 Beachfront. After breakfast there we began our day of fun!
Our first attraction was the Mackinaw Bridge Museum downtown, they opened at 8 AM. This museum is quite large, you need at least an hour to explore it. Two videos are playing, showing the building of the bridge. You can buy them both together for $30 for a great souvenir. Having a meal at Mama Mia’s Pizza sounds like a good pairing with a visit here too!
This museum is located in Mackinaw City’s main shopping district. To us it resembled Broadway Street in the Wisconsin Dells. In the center of it all is Mackinaw Crossings. There you will also find their historic train depot, now a restaurant.
Mackinaw City has a great many historical markers, more than we had time to see. Some of them are interactive, there are audio clips to go with each marker. It is part of the Mackinaw City Historical Pathway. This is what the signs look like.
We walked on the trail to the shore, from here you could see the new telescope building going up. It should be done by next summer! This is where you look at the blackest sky possible. If you wish to do some stargazing in your area, use this light pollution map as a guide.
It was lunch time, we headed to one of the city’s favorite places, Darrow’s Family Restaurant. The Darrow family also were the Mackinac Bridge builders as well. It was pretty busy!
We also paid a visit to Wawatam Park, named after a brave Indian Chief who lived in this area. You can see Mackinac Island in the background behind the wood carving of the Chief. There is also a historical pathways sign here.
We also went to the Gary R. Williams Memorial Park, where we got day and night pictures of the Mackinac Bridge. A freighter passed under the bridge at night while we were there.
We also enjoyed visiting the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum, a retired Coast Guard Ship. What a great tour and view from the deck! This was the last attraction we visited that day.
Two freighters passing in front of Mackinac Island!
We finished our day with dinner at the Dixie Saloon, located at the endpoint of the famous Dixie Highway. It follows most of the outline of Michigan. I have been near the beginning of this highway when I lived in Illinois. It passes through Chicago Heights. The restaurant does not have free wi-fi, but you can pick up a signal from the nearby Shepler’s Ferry.
This rounds out our only full day in Mackinaw City. We had views of other attractions we may get to on a future visit.